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I have a 55g with 17 demasoni (and 18 other fish, mostly labs). I've had them for just over a year now, since they were juvies, and they're prolific breeders. I have a ton of rockwork and it's a very crowded tank so I've had almost no aggression issues... just a lot of fish sex!

Anyway, several males are nearing full size, and they're very beautiful fish, but the females seem like they're wasting away, because all they ever do is breed. They never get to eat! I pull them out when I see them holding (if I have a chance... sometimes I miss one or two, one just spit in the tank, I know) and try to keep them in a tank with juvies after they've spit to feed them and get them back to health, but it doesn't seem to be working well. They're just tiny, and a few of them look unhealthy. My two original fry, which I found hiding under rocks several months ago, have both outgrown the frequent mothers.

So I'm wondering if I should remove them from the tank for a month or so and put them on a 3x a day feeding regimen. It can't be healthy for them to be so small and constantly holding and going without food. But will doing so and leaving a tank of all males lead to increased aggression? At one point last month I had four females out of the tank (I believe I only have 6 total - got a little unlucky with the mix) and for the first time I noticed a male looking really beat up. He's one of the larger ones too, but obviously subdominant. I've been really lucky to have a year of peace with demasoni and he was the worst I've seen. He wasn't even that bad, but still, it's a departure from the norm. I worry that if I pull out the women again he'll get killed.

Or am I just worried for no reason? Will the moms just decide not to breed if they're not feeling healthy enough to?

(size estimate: I'd say some of them are only 2" but I'm bad at guessing. I've gotten as many as 12 fry from one of them but usually it's like 7 per spitting, if that is any indication as to age/size.)
 

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my female labs hold regularly. i take the holders out and the next day or two they are breeding again. what i did was put all of them in a 20gallon and feed them twice a day. and their weight were normal again.
 
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